Health Ministry lodges fraud complaint against journalist

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Saudi Gazette

JEDDAH
— The Ministry of Health has lodged a complaint with the Public Prosecution against a reporter accusing him of fraud.

Abdulaziz Al-Ghamdi had published an investigative report earlier this week after visiting two public hospitals and one medical center in Jeddah dressed up as a doctor with a stethoscope in hand. He claimed that no one had stopped him from entering the hospital building or even checking on patients and giving them prescriptions.

The visits, Al-Ghamdi noted, revealed long waiting hours for patients and an absence of proper security in different departments.

Speaking to the media following the complaint against him by the ministry, Al-Ghamdi, a reporter for Al-Madina Arabic newspaper, said his aim was to assess security measures at hospitals following reports of repeated attacks against health workers and even kidnapping of babies.

He said at every point of his tour he wished someone would stop him and ask for identification but no one did so during the four days he visited the hospitals thanks to his lab coat.

The case has sparked a heated debate between medical professionals and media persons. While the former believe that the reporter committed numerous violations, the latter see it as a media scoop that exposed many existing problems at public hospitals.

Dr. Farhan Al-Enizi said the reporter committed four violations: he entered a government department without making prior arrangements, impersonated a doctor, bluffed security guards and invaded the privacy of patients in a way that harmed them.

Writer Halima Mudafar, however, pointed out that this was an example of professional journalistic work essential to expose important issues that need be tackled.

She added, “If this reporter is going to be investigated this will be a black mark on Saudi journalism. This kind of work is essential to lift the standard of the local media.”

She also called on the Saudi Journalists Association to come to the defense of the reporter.


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